It is great to travel to the beach to relax, or to the city for a cultural escape, but travel is much more than a way to escape from real life. Good travel will open your heart in ways you never expected. It will challenge your concepts, your ideals, and your self-worth. Good travel will feed your soul and bring you home as a more whole, more happy and grounded person. Good travel can change your life.
I remember the first time travelled alone. As a 14 years old flying home from my totally unconventional, somewhat hippy and alternative, boarding school for Christmas break, I felt the freedom of navigating the airport by myself and I felt alive.
And I remember the polite gentleman who sat next to me on the plane and listened intently as I told him why he needed to meditate, practice yoga, and become a vegetarian to stop climate change. This was in 1998.
While my reasons for travel have changed, and yoga and meditation have become more mainstream, the fact that travel opens you to new people, new spiritual opportunities, and makes you more whole are as true as ever.
Here are the just a few reasons why traveling is good for your heart and mind.
Why Traveling is Good for Your Heart and Your Mind
When you travel, your worldview is challenged. This can be both good and shocking. When I saw that in India children living in basic huts, covered in dirt, were deliriously happy with life, it made me both question my definition of poverty and reconsider the importance of joy in life.
Worldviews can be challenged in all sorts of ways. It can make you more grateful for the life you have, and also reconsider your priorities. Sometimes seeing how others are living makes you want to restructure your own life. Inspiration can be around any corner â go out and experience it!
One more reason to take that vacation: you will perform better at work.
The process of understanding how to navigate a new country or city creates new connections in your brain and strengthens problem-solving skills. Reading those subway maps or trying to understand the street signs in a new language help keep your mind sharp, which translates to better problem solving skills and creativity when you are back home.
Did you know that emotional intelligence is even more important than academic intelligence for success in life? And one of the best ways to cultivate emotional intelligence is to exercise compassion? Travel cultivates compassion in a variety of ways.
Compassion means putting yourself in another personâs shoes and feeling what they feel. When you are caught in your daily routine with the same people, it is easy to go on autopilot and forget to exercise extra compassion. When you travel, you are exposed to a new environment and new people, which allows your heart and mind to reach with new compassion.
Here are a few examples: maybe you give a few Euros to the street musician playing your favorite song; maybe you smile at the elderly couple walking hand in hand in the park; maybe the children playing in the park make you also want to run free. All of these examples are ways to stretch your empathy and compassion, expanding your heart.
Do your heart a favor and experience that new place, and all those universal human feelings welling up there. Be present in the moment and feel your heart expanding. Youâll be surprised how much that helps you when you are back home.
But more importantly, the heart loves to unify and understand our common humanity. The heart is made to love. When you travel, you see yourself reflected in people who on the surface appear different from you. Whether it is different clothes, different race, different religion, or different culture, how we appear to the world can look very different. And yet, the basic human emotions, goals, desires, and needs are the same.
Experiencing this makes you feel both big and small. You feel small compared to the vast diversity of experience in the world. And you feel big because those same needs and emotions within you can be shared with so many others around the world. Then we are not an individual, but a part of a global humanity.
Good for your spirit of humanity
Traveling can shock your senses, challenge your worldview, and open your heart, but ultimately it makes you more connected to the human race and the vast variety of human experiences. This can inspire you to change your own life, the lives of others, or make you more creative in work.
Ultimately, how we see and interact with the world is what you have to offer. By enriching who you are and how you see the world, you can give more to make your own life better and also to help others.
To your health and happiness,
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